Saturday, November 11, 2017

Pentecost 23A

Matthew 25:1-13

1Jesus said to the disciples, "Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. 6But at midnight there was a shout, "Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' 7Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish said to the wise, "Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' 9But the wise replied, "No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.'

10And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. 11Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, "Lord, lord, open to us.' 12But he replied, "Truly I tell you, I do not know you.' 13Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Two more Sundays and we'll have cycled through another year of grace in the church! Next week will be Pentecost 24; then on the last Sunday of this year of grace, we'll celebrate Reign of Christ / Christ the King before we move into another season of Advent, into Revised Common Lectionary Year B when we feature the gospel according to Mark that's the earliest and shortest of the four canonical gospels.

Let's begin with the Apostle Paul's reminder from 2 Corinthians 6:2 that reminds us now is the "acceptable time, the day of salvation." Today, this instant, is the time to repent, forgive, start making restitution—the time of action, time of doing justice and righteousness God calls us to through the prophet Amos 5:24 in the first reading for today. Paul picks up on God's promise in Isaiah 49:8a that in a favorable time, a day of salvation, God will answer us and help us. That's right now. It's today.

Like the characters in Matthew's allegory we need to wait, but we also need to take life-giving, merciful, loving, justice-enhancing action Jesus calls us to in the Beatitudes as we wait. Interesting the lectionary juxtaposes this wedding attendants story with Amos' call to cascading righteousness and justice.

Last week for All Saints Sunday we again heard the "Blessed are" Beatitudes from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. Maybe you've heard them referred to as Be-Attitudes?

Jesus addresses his parable or allegory to his "disciples," to us. Yes, we need to wait for the second coming of Christ Jesus tells us about, but it's not passive waiting. The "end times" are the end of the world as we know it; the end of violence, injustice, and exploitation that we know too well. The dawn and beginning of the new world of peace-filled shalom, distributive (and other forms of) justice for all, integrity and purposefulness for all creation. The end times are a gateway or open door to the new creation.

Our discussion placed this passage in context of the beatitudes, and in the context of Jesus' talk about end times or eschatology (the word about "last things") in the previous chapter, Matthew 24. Also looking forward to Reign of Christ where Jesus tells people whenever anyone gave a cup of water to the least of these, visited those in prison, etc. they (we, us, you, me) did those merciful and life-restoring actions to him. We talked about the massacre at First Baptist Sutherland, Texas last Sunday. This past week all over social media people said "thoughts and prayers" were not enough. They needed to hear about the end of gun violence, the reform of the NRA, repeal of existing gun laws, etc. Take action! Be God's hands, feet, voice, presence in the world!

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